September 19, 2022
ArchLIGHT Summit Pleases Attendees. Exhibitors Mixed.
Excellent venue and educational program doesn’t translate to consensus exhibitor satisfaction
DALLAS, TEXAS — The second annual ArchLIGHT Summit occurred on September 15-16 at the Dallas Market Center in Dallas, Texas. The event was hosted in a lovely space and featured dozens of leading lighting manufacturers along with some excellent lighting education opportunities for lighting people of all experience levels. Attendees seemed to give near-unanimous high marks to ArchLIGHT Summit, but that was offset by many exhibitors leaving this year’s event feeling underwhelmed.
Dallas Market Center (DMC) owns both the facility and the ArchLIGHT Summit event. DMC is in the business of helping design and apparel brands reach customers through exhibitions. This allows them to flex many strengths that aren’t easily replicated at hotel ballroom or convention center trade shows:
The building is very appealing. The lighting exhibits were well organized in the atrium area with 40+-foot ceilings, ample table/chair breakout seating and even an alluring koi pond.
The welcome event with cocktails and light appetizers took place at an adjacent space at the World Trade Center’s 15th floor. Guests enjoyed pleasing views of Dallas in a nice function room with an outdoor balcony section. The meeting rooms were located on the fourth floor – a little off the beaten path – but close to some of the permanent lighting showrooms by brands like Sonneman and Verozza.
The Dallas Market Center has a professional onsite team that manages attendee registration, booth setup, drayage and other trade show logistics that are often outsourced and expensive at other venues.
Additionally, the ArchLIGHT Summit team and its Advisory Board assembled a high-quality and very diverse menu of education topics led by some very-well respected lighting thought leaders including Craig Bernecker, PhD., Janet Lennox Moyer, FIALD and Tony Esposito, PhD. Esposito and Jason Livingston teamed up for what attendees described as an eye-opening, valuable and experiential program entitled Designing with TM-30. Show organizers reported that education programs attracted 381 attendees.
Above: "Designing with TM-30" live demonstration
With this year’s rendition being the second ArchLIGHT Summit, most exhibitors seemed to realize that there was not a large built-in, well-established, perennial, ArchLIGHT Summit audience. Despite some adjusted expectations, however, many exhibitors still didn’t seem to recoup the return on time and investment that they had envisioned.
Like other lighting events, the ArchLIGHT Summit partners with local lighting agents to help drive both exhibitors and attendees to the event. This year’s event once again partnered with Hossley Lighting & Power Solutions and NexGen Lighting Solutions, while also adding Preferred Lighting Group to the mix. Notably, the agents for Acuity Brands and Cooper Lighting Solutions – ALA and Texas Lighting – did not formally participate, which seemed to put even more emphasis on the three lighting agent partners to drive foot traffic to the event. Among the partners, Hossley is the largest agent and they had the largest share of floorspace with 28 of the 80 exhibitors being Hossley partners in the Dallas market.
This year’s event reportedly attracted 34% more attendees than last year. Those numbers include exhibitors and students who attended from five universities. We did not receive an actual headcount number from DMC but we estimate that there were fewer than 750 total attendees over the two days.
About half of the exhibitors with whom we spoke ranged from slightly dissatisfied to very dissatisfied with the quantity and quality of exhibit hall visitors over the two days. While there were some notable design firms represented at the event, that doesn’t guarantee that those designers visit all 80 booths and engage with each brand’s products. Firms that reportedly had staff at the event include:
- DLR Group
- Essential Light Design Studio
- High-line Architecture
- HKS Inc.
- Schuler Shook
- SW Associates
- The Lighting Practice
- Tirschwell & Co
There were numerous exhibitors that seemed somewhat pleased or pleased with the event. The companies that seemed most pleased happened to be located on one of two center aisles and were also represented by Hossley. Brands in the Hossley fold benefited from having a prime location, having a popular Thursday evening customer event at nearby Ferris Wheeler’s and also by having an opportunity to connect with Hossley team members from other far-away markets including Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock and Memphis.
Above: Hossley Lighting & Power Solutions serves up Shiner Bock (in dishwasher-safe HLPS red party cups) and brisket to ArchLIGHT Summit attendees.
Distributor-focused general lighting brands seemed disappointed that there weren’t as many visitors from Elliott Electric, Lonestar Electric Supply, FSG and other prominent Texas lighting and electrical distributors. Some brands expressed appreciation that the annual conference for the National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) was co-located at Dallas Market Center, but that alone didn’t seem to provide the ROI that certain distributor-focused brands were expecting.
The cost to exhibit at ArchLIGHT Summit is fairly reasonable, so booth staff were not regretful or upset about huge financial loss; the disappointment seemed to stem from overall slowness of the show and mismatched expectations. Having Day 2 of the show on a Friday was seemingly not a popular idea. Show organizers took note of that for next year’s event.
In the end, Hossley had the largest presence and also seemingly had a large amount of burden to bring attendees to the event. One of the challenges ArchLIGHT Summit will seemingly need to address is how to attract more high-quality designers, distributors and other lighting decision makers to the show floor (not just the educational programs) to help drive a momentum, a following and a FOMO that causes the event to grow even more in year three, year five and beyond.
ArchLIGHT’s easiest path to much-better attendance is forming a strong partnership with local agents, ALA and Texas Lighting. Without those partners, however, show organizers will need to keep existing agent partners in the fold and find other creative ways to drive designers and distributors to the Dallas Market center for future events.
There are few venues that have as much going for it as ArchLIGHT Summit does – appealing event space, very professional organizers, affordable and easy-to-get-to Dallas location. As the show evolves we hope to see more engagement by the lighting design and distribution communities that brings more and more lighting people to future events.
Next year’s ArchLIGHT Summit is scheduled for Tuesday & Wednesday September 19 & 20, 2023.